Quick: What do parties and bus rides have in common? They’re both more fun if you play a few bus games!
If you’re traveling with kids, a long bus ride can seem intimidating. And — in a mobile-first world — it can be hard to pull adults away from their devices — especially on a long bus ride. If you’re looking for new ways to pass the time, break the ice, build a team, or just have some fun, try out these thought-provoking party games on your next bus ride. Here are five party bus games (that double as school bus games) for your group.
1) Who Am I?
This is a variation on Twenty Questions. All the guests have a nametag on their backs (or foreheads), bearing the name of a celebrity. These nametags can be preprinted by the party leader according to a theme (i.e., movie stars, politicians, notorious criminals, cartoon characters, and so on). Alternatively, the leader can distribute blank nametags and instruct guests to fill in the name of a celebrity and affix it to someone’s back (i.e., the back of the person sitting in front of or across from them). Guests then have 15-20 minutes to ask 20 “yes” or “no” questions of their fellow passengers to figure out their secret identities.
- “Am I alive?”
- “Have I ever won an academy award?”
- “Have I been married more than five times?”
- “Have I ever been investigated by a special prosecutor?”
To encourage mingling (assuming it’s appropriate to move around the bus), allow only one question per respondent. Each time a guesser asks a question, the respondent adds a hash mark to the nametag until the 20 questions have been exhausted.
Pair people up randomly (or pair them with someone they don’t know well) and instruct the pairs to interview each other. The game leader can prepare interview questions ahead of time or give players a few guidelines and let them come up with questions of their own. The objective is to learn as much as possible about the other person’s job, family, hobbies, pets, favorite foods, and so on. The game is even more fun when players ask questions like:
- “What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?”
- “Who is your celebrity crush?”
- “What is your (secret) guilty pleasure?”
- “In a movie about your life, who would play you and why?”
After 15-20 minutes, each twosome gets up in front of the group and reveals interesting, unexpected, and amusing things about one another.
3) Getting-to-Know-You Bingo
This is an icebreaker game that allows members of the group to find out interesting things about their travel companions. Distribute pre-printed bingo cards (five rows by five columns) with interesting facts written inside 24 squares—leaving a free space in the middle. The squares might say:
- Has lived in Europe
- Likes anchovies
- Is a vegetarian
- Has five or more siblings
- Refuses to fly
- Won a raffle or lottery
Players wander around the bus gathering signatures from people who match the facts printed on their bingo cards.
Rules of the game: No one can sign any bingo card more than once, so even if someone likes anchovies and also meditates, he or she can sign only one of the squares. A player wins when he or she obtains five signatures in a row (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) and shouts “Bingo!” If you want the game to last a while, require a full card to be completely initialed before declaring a winner. Once someone has “bingo,” all the players return to their seats and the winner introduces all the people who signed his or her card.
4) Story Chain
Divide people into groups of around eight (i.e., two bus rows). The group assigns one member to serve as recorder/scribe and another member to serve as reporter.
To begin the story chain, the first person shares a fact that reveals something about him/herself. For example:
- “I was born in England.”
The next person must share something that has a connection—however tenuous—to the original story. For example:
- “When my college friends and I were traveling in England, our rental car broke down and we had to spend the night at the police station."
The next storyteller might say:
- “I had to bail my brother out of jail in the middle of the night once for unpaid parking tickets.”
- “I sprinted to put quarters in my parking meter the other day and discovered that someone had already plugged it for me.”
- “I drove through McDonald’s yesterday and paid for the mom and kids in the car behind me.”
- "In the 1990s, my aunt won $10,000 in McDonald’s Monopoly and took the whole family on a cruise."
After all eight people have told their stories and the recorder has completed the transcript, each group’s reporter stands in front of the bus and reads the story chain, complete with attributions.
5) Sing Down
Divide the bus into teams of four to 10 people. The leader comes up with a word frequently found in song titles or song lyrics. Words like “love,” “prayer,” “trouble,” “sunshine,” or “baby” are all good choices.
Announce the selected word and give teams a few minutes to come up with a list of song lyrics using that word. Variations on the words (like “lover,” “pray,” and “troubled,” for “love,” “prayer,” and “trouble”) are acceptable.
To play: Team 1 sings a line of a song using the selected word and identifies the source. For example, if the word is “trouble,” the team might sing: “Well, ya got trouble, my friends, right here, I said trouble right here in River City …” and then announce that the line comes from the musical “Music Man.”
Team 2 sings a line from the gospel song, “Soon I Will Be Done with the Troubles of the World.”
Team 3 sings a line from Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”
Once a song has been used by one of the teams, that song is out of play and can’t be used again. If a team can’t come up with a song, that team is eliminated, until one team is left standing and declared the winner of that round. The winning team selects the word for the next round of play.
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When you combine a party with a bus ride, you’ve got yourself a party on wheels. What are some of your favorite party games for your party bus? Want more? Read 10 do's and don'ts of booking a party bus here!
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